Call it Open Finance. Call it DeFi. Call it whatever you’d like. In any case, a major trend in the Ethereum ecosystem lately is disintermediating complex financial operations to make it easier than ever for users to turn money services into a “do it yourself,” or DIY, activity.
The latest developments in that vein this week come via Staked and the Universal Market Access (UMA) project, both of which have rolled out new services that are likely at the tip of the spear where DeFi innovations are concerned.
With regard to Staked, the company just announced its new Robo-Advisor for Yield (RAY) service, which is comprised of a series of smart contracts and is designed to automatically funnel a user’s investments into the highest yielding investment opportunities in Ethereum DeFi at any given time.
???????? Introducing DeFi's First Robo-Advisor ????????
— Spencer Noon ????✨???? (@spencernoon) September 12, 2019
To use the service, a trader must deposit ether (ETH), DAI, or USD Coin (USDC) into the provided RAY contract and thereafter select what DeFi “opportunities should be considered.” The system then automatically moves around those funds to take advantages of the best yielding outlets at the time.
The plan is for the service to eventually move beyond mere lending and into different cryptoeconomy activities like the coming Dai savings rate, the Staked team explained:
“RAY initially supports lending on Compound, dYdX and bZx, but offers a generalized approach to plug-in novel yield-generating opportunities. Over time, RAY will support staking, the DAI savings rate, arbitrage opportunities, market-making, and other opportunities created by the community.”
Like its name suggests, the company supports Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain projects like Tezos, Cosmos, and Livepeer. The startup is backed by investors like Winklevoss Capital, the Digital and Coinbase Ventures.
UMA Protocol Team Prepares to Let Users Build Their Own Tokens
Also in the news this week is the UMA Protocol team’s new Synthetic Token Builder service, which allows users to “build tokens that can track anything with a price feed.”
LET'S BUILD SOME SYNTHETIC TOKENS!
Announcing UMA's Synthetic Token Builder, a dapp to build tokens that can track anything with a price feed.
Read on use cases like:
*building yield curves*
*betting on bitcoin dominance*
*synthetic local currencies*https://t.co/vDNtwHBcPD
— UMA (@UMAprotocol) September 11, 2019
For now, the service is only live on Ethereum’s Rinkeby testnet, meaning its not out in the wild just yet. However, the testnet version is an excellent indication of the kind of products that are coming — and from anyone that wants to release them. As UMA Protocol’s financial engineer Regina Cai explained on the news:
“With the Token Builder, you can create tokens that track the price of anything (the S&P 500, the # of Twitter/IG followers someone has, the # of upvotes your meme has…). All you have to do is choose the price feed and deposit DAI.”
How’s it work exactly? Like so, Cai said in a Medium post:
“Under the hood, the dapp creates a token facility by launching a smart contract. After you deposit DAI into your token facility, you’re able to mint synthetic tokens that are fully backed by the DAI you deposited. Overcollateralizing your token facility ensures that the synthetic tokens are fully backed at all times. This helps reassure anyone buying your synthetic tokens that they’re fully backed (by you).”
Such a dynamic will allow users to make a wide variety of unique tokens, ranging from tokens that are pegged to the Chinese yuan to tokens that are pegged to Facebook’s stock price.
Within the cryptoverse, the UMA Protocol project is known for launching the USStocks project earlier this year, which created a token that represented “synthetic ownership of an index of the 500 largest exchange-listed US stocks.”
“USStocks is an exciting example of how decentralized finance can unlock economic opportunities for people regardless of geography or income level,” MakerDAO chief executive officer Rune Christensen said at the time.
Relatedly, whatever happens with the UMA team’s latest service, it’s clear that the frictionless nature of tokenization continues to march on.